By John Kariuki
The Tobacco Control and Health Promotion Alliance, has raised a red flag following blatant environmental degradation due to tobaccos harmful effects.
The Alliance’s Chairman Mr Joel Gitali, opines that our environment is at a threat which spills over to also jeopardize food security in a country where not all Kenyans are able to have three decent meals.
Environmental impacts of tobacco farming include massive use of water, large-scale deforestation, and contamination of the air and water systems.
Many countries that grow and/or produce tobacco are low- or middle-income countries and some of them face substantive food insecurity, and even hunger.
“Tobacco has proved to be a very poor crop. Firstly, it cannon be intercropped thereby risking the only livelihood for farmers. Secondly, the treatment of tobacco releases toxic fumes to the environment. That’s not all, the cigarette butts that are carelessly thrown away pose a risk to drainage systems by clogging them and they don’t decompose.” Mr Joel added.
Cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, a plastic which only degrades under severe biological circumstances, such as when filters collect in sewage. In practice, cigarette butts tossed on streets and beaches do not biodegrade.
An estimated 766,571 metric tons of cigarette butts make their way into the environment every year.
Ahead of the World No Tobacco Day to be observed on Tuesday 31st May 2022 the Tobacco Control and Health promotion alliance has welcomed the new taxes to be imposed on cigarette and other nicotine related products.
This year, public health champions around the world will mark World No Tobacco Day by focusing on the many ways tobacco threatens the environment, to raise awareness about the environmental impact of the entire tobacco cycle.
The campaign will also aim to expose the tobacco industry’s effort to greenwash its reputation and to make its products more appealing by marketing them as environmentally friendly.